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Money: How Teens Feel About Real World Issues

Teens and MoneyTeens and Money: summary report on students' attitudes towards money and the role of money in their lives.

Below is a collection of the essays from teens in high school and college students as they answered the December 2010 monthly writing contest writing prompt...

"What is your relationship with money?  How do you spend (or save)...and why?"

Over 3,335 students from all 50 US states and dozens of countries visited the writing contest during the month of December, and scores of high school and college students talked about their attitudes towards money via their 500 word essay.  From the essay submissions, several themes emerged:

  1. Frustration:  Many teens expressed negative emotions towards money:  anger, frustration, stress, distrust, and even hatred.
  2. Role Models:  Teens are watching how their parents treat money.  In several of the essays, the teens made a point to criticize how their parents handle money and vowed not to "be like them."
  3. Pragmatic:  There was a minority voice that did approach the topic with a more pragmatic point of view and in some rarer cases, even positive tone.  Students shared their personal saving tips, budgeting experience and more.
  4. Money Isn't Everything:  A good percentage of the essays address a more universal truth...that money isn't everything.  Yes, it's needed to survive, but it's not a requirement in making people happy.

Immediately below, you'll find featured links to the winning essay, our semi-finalists and some of the other teen essays about money.  We've included a random assortment of 60 or so of the blog content entries.

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. 

If you have the time, make a comment on the essays you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their contest entry).

Student Writing Contest Winner

Winner:   Money: Affinity Gone Awry by ishmealarmageddon


High School Finalists:

College Finalists:

Aside from the finalists, we had a wide variety of insightful teen essays about money this month.  Other Essays (in no particular order):

Teens and Money:  A Variety of Themes

  1. Money: The Wrong Truth To Our Source Of Happiness (a story tied to Egypt)
  2. Money : Thin piece of paper that never sees the face of the bin. (money isn't everything)
  3. Money: The Less Important Green. (poetic story from Delaware)
  4. Money: Makes the World Go Round. (thoughts on the banking system from a high school freshmen)
  5. Money: I Save Dimes! (student with a disability shares important insights on saving)
  6. Money:  A tough teacher (good things that don't cost a lot can still make us happy)
  7. Money:  Like a Roller Coaster (separated parents force student to understand money)
  8. Money:  The top of the mountain (money is important, but family comes first)
  9. Money: The Life and Death of Society (money represents greed)
  10. Money: It's not the only factor. (work hard, earn money, and don't think about it so much)
  11. Money:  A survival technique (money is a survival technique - the more you have - the easier it is to live your life)
  12. Money: Can it really buy me happiness? (what happens if your money runs out?)
  13. Money:  A Pat on the Back (one student's story of community service, money and charity)
  14. Money:  Guilty as Charged (teenager flips car and reflects on her priorities)
  15. Money: Wuthering Heights in Hatfield (love-hate relationship with money)
  16. Money:  The Red Dollar (money essay that ties in the novel Lord of the Flies)
  17. Money: Microwaveable Rice and Two Onions Please! (it doesn't matter how much you spend, but that you're together)
  18. Money:  A Mystery (girl from China comes to America - real happiness is cultivated from within)
  19. Money: An opportunity for my education (money provides opportunities)
  20. Money: The Mistakes, Exposure, and Rewards of a Summer Job (job at Burger King shapes young adult)
  21. Money: The Father of Taxes and Probably Death
  22. Money: What everyone wants a lot of, but so few have (an open letter to "money")
  23. Money: Something I Lacked, But Understand (thoughts on money and character)
  24. Money?  Cool story bro (students shares openly about spending patterns)
  25. Money:  How I spend my money (money brings out the best and worst of people)
  26. Money:  Simply, I love it. (saving for the future)
  27. Money: An Incomprehensible Web (the complexities of money interwoven with a spider/web metaphor)
  28. Money: It has always just been handed to me. (honest comments about money from a teen coming from divorced parents)
  29. Money: Pieces of Metal and Paper That Control Impact our Lives (paying for things yourself makes you realize if you really need it)
  30. Money: A Source of Weakness (getting a job will help with money concerns)
  31. Money:  What to do with it (student's job as an umpire)
  32. Money: The Inevitable Truth (teenage girl talks about the importance of money to her lifestyle)
  33. Money:  Money taught me a life lesson (son takes father's advice on money)
  34. Money:  Can't Buy Happiness (thoughts on money and Christmas)
  35. Money: Not QUITE the Root of All Evil, but Almost (philosophical thoughts on good and bad aspects of money)
  36. Money:  The Money in My Wallet (a student carries $1000 in cash in his wallet at all times)
  37. Money:  Easy to Save (student who saves)
  38. Money:  I don't have (diary entry of a girl saving for Italy)
  39. Money: Takes Months to Save it and Five Seconds to Spend It (thoughts on money and the holidays)
  40. Money:  Saving Money (students wants to buy a JEEP)
  41. Money: < Happiness (thoughts beyond Jewelry, Cars and Clothes)
  42. Money:  The backstabbing friend you thought you could count on. (student questions 'what is money?')
  43. Money: Inside the Mind of a Teenage Girl (the title says it all)
  44. Money: We’re in a Complicated Relationship (parents are source of income for this teen)
  45. Money:  My essay (raising money for good causes)
  46. Money:  Show Me the Money (a walk through Fashion Valley with a teen shopper)
  47. Money:  Oy Vey! (Jewish teen shares thoughts on money)
  48. Money:  On the contrary, have you seen the positive impacts of money? (the positive aspects of money)
  49. Money: Maybe if I close my eyes it will disappear (teen reflects on the negative spending parents of parents)
  50. Money: Controller of Nations (money controls the world)
  51. Money: A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned (teen rock guitarist/musician prioritizes spending habits)
  52. Money: Materialism's best friend (love is more important than money)
  53. Money: It's like the air we breathe, except that we don't always need it (teen shares on buying behavior)
  54. Money: Why I am a Conservative Spender (teen respects the fact that money does NOT grow on trees)
  55. Money: I yearn for the leaves although its roots are all evil (are we all just trying to buy happiness?)
  56. Money: Ugh... (money means nothing to this student)
  57. Money: Dodging the Stranglehold (this poor teen's family shops "smart")
  58. Money:  The Unsavable (teen shares 3 shopping tips that allow him to buy a holiday present for everyone)
  59. Money: A Double-edged Sword (balance and wisdom is required to handle money)
  60. Money:  World Without Money (money infuriates this teen)

Student Financial Resource:  As with each of our writing contests, we featured an additional resource for the students to explore before (or after) they submitted the contest essay.  In December, we encouraged teens to visit  It's a completely free way to manage your money, set financial goals, track your spending and set a budget. 

That may sound like boring stuff parents do, but as an advocate for teen and college student wellness, highly recommends (even more so for young adults).  It's never too early to take control of your financial well being and fully understand how you control your money...not the other way around.  Set up a free account and give it a try.

Last Words:  We could not list all of the essays submitted for this contest, but we thank every student that participated in the conversation about money and teens/students.  To enter the current Stage of Life monthly writing contest for high school students and college students:


Stage of Life - Student Writing Contest Press Release


Can money buy happiness? The answer is “no” if you're a teenager, but it certainly stresses them out., a national blogging and writing resource for generations of Teens to Baby Boomers, released its summary report on “Teens and Money.”

The report is complied from the anecdotal insights of 3,335 teenagers and young adults who visited's recent monthly writing contest for students - many of whom submitted 500 word essays answering the writing prompt, “What is your relationship with money? How do you spend (or save), and why?"

Major themes emerged from the blog submissions detailing the delicate and often contentious relationship between young people and money. From anger towards world financial and economic institutions to more pragmatic insights on personal budgeting,'s teen blog summary report provides links to over 60 of the submitted student essays/blogs.

The winner of the blogging writing contest, Justina Tran, a student at Garden Grove High School in Garden Grove, CA, personified money as a living being in her essay, “Affinity Gone Awry.” When asked about her current relationship with money, Tran stated, “(It) still stresses me out to an extent, but I'm confident it won't overshadow my life. I guess money and I can still be friends.”

Although stress and money were tied together in many of essays, that relationship is one that can be broken. featured as its free, educational resource that can help young people establish a budget, learn the benefits of saving, and plan financial goals, thus relieving stress associated with money.

“At, we believe money is for living,” said Aaron Patzer, VP and General Manager of Intuit PFG and founder of “It’s important for teens and students starting college to be financially literate and know how to budget for life. In just a few years, they will be in control of their own bills, bank account, and credit card, so they want to have good financial habits that they can use for the rest of their life.” teen blog editor, Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter, takes this advice to heart. "It's important for teens to budget their money. I've been a teen for four years already, and...if I'd have spent less money on unnecessary things in the past, then maybe I'd have been closer to saving up for a car then I am now!"

When asked why she entered the writing contest with her essay, “Money: Guilty As Charged”, Rose Sulentic, a senior at St. Agnes Academy in Houston, TX, stated, “I needed extra practice with personal essay skills. The question about money was perfect because it was a way for me to vent about my then-recent car accident without being too morose.”

The current writing contest for college and high school students asks, "What organization, company, non-profit or 'cause' will help make the world a better place in 2011?"

“This month's essay contest is an opportunity for teens and college students to shed light and share with us worthwhile 'causes' that we should all know about,” states CEO, Eric Thiegs. For each person submitting an essay to the current writing contest, their nominated cause will receive a link on a newly created resource page called, "Making the World a Better Place."

Site sponsor,, is providing the monthly prize and is offering up SWAG and Featured Blogger status to the next student writing contest winner.

The contest summary report page about Teens and Money can be found at:

Writing Contest Archive - Students

Writing Contests and Teen Trend Reports Student Writing Contests

Below you will find all of the monthly writing contests and teen trend reports from the last five years hosted by  Our dedication to digital literacy efforts have reached over 1,000,000 students and teachers in the last half decade, received mention on, and features in the news.  Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month. is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with you as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

2016 Writing Contests

Writing Contest for High School Students

2015 Writing Contests

2014 Writing Contests

 2013 Writing Contests

2012 Writing Contests

2011 Writing Contests

 2010 Writing Contests

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